Berlin Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has accused Union faction leader Friedrich Merz of having a blurred perception of reality. “Welcome to Alice in Wonderland!” Said the SPD politician on Wednesday at the general debate in the Bundestag.
The Chancellor was referring to a speech by the leader of the opposition at the last CDU party conference. There, Merz claimed that the country’s problem was not the last 16 years of the CDU-led federal government, but the last 16 weeks under the leadership of the traffic light coalition, Scholz explained. “I can only say: Anyone who believes that also believes in talking white rabbits,” said the Chancellor.
During the exchange of blows in the Bundestag, Merz had previously accused the traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP of serious omissions after the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.
In connection with the announced special fund of 100 billion euros for the Bundeswehr, Merz spoke of a breach of word. The defense budget will not increase by at least two percent as agreed, but will fall by almost 300 million euros. “This is a gross breach of promise to Parliament and above all to the Bundeswehr,” he criticized.
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In his speech, Scholz responded surprisingly sharply to the allegations: “What is really big, you talk down, and vice versa. What actually happened and who was responsible for it all becomes blurred. And what initially sounds logical is in fact sheer nonsense.”
Clear opinion on European politics
According to Scholz, if the “turn of the era” and the global crises had taught one thing, it would be this: “Our country needs change. Merely ‘keep it up’ is not an option.” He then addressed Merz directly and said: “The ‘keep it up’ party is now in the opposition. And that’s where it belongs.”
Scholz also indirectly responded to the criticism of the former Bundestag President and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on his European policy. In an interview with the Handelsblatt, the CDU politician accused him of damaging Germany’s reputation through his arrogant demeanor and also referred to Franco-German relations.
>> Read here: Wolfgang Schäuble: “Germany’s reputation is badly damaged”
Without naming Schäuble, the chancellor emphasized his active role in European politics. “It is this federal government that has formulated clear ideas about the future of Europe – something that the French President and others have had to wait for for years,” said Scholz. With Emmanuel Macron, he shares the goal of a geopolitical Europe that is significantly more capable of acting.
“Our country has the crisis under control”
Scholz was optimistic about the upcoming winter. Energy security is “well guaranteed,” he said, and assured with regard to the crisis: “Our country has it under control.” He referred to full gas storage facilities, liquid gas terminals, new supply contracts, the restart of coal-fired power plants and the continued operation of nuclear power plants.
The federal government had “reversed courageously,” said Scholz. Households and businesses across the country used energy sparingly. “That remains very important – especially with a view to the coming year and the winter of 2023.” The Chancellor went on to say that the federal government could not completely subsidize the rise in energy prices. “But we reduce it to a tolerable level.”
He pointed out that the sales tax on gas and district heating will be reduced as well as the December one-off payment for gas and heat customers. In addition, the framework conditions for the gas, heat and electricity price brakes for private households and companies are now in place. These are to come into force on March 1st.
>> Read here: Gas price brake and electricity price brake should apply retrospectively from January
He also gave his coalition an excellent reference – without mentioning his power in the nuclear dispute. Despite the constant friction between the Greens and the FDP, for example about extending the lifespan of nuclear power plants, he spoke of “hard work and a spirit of renewal and departure”. With a word of power, the chancellor made it clear in October that all three nuclear power plants would remain online until mid-April 2023.
More: Read all current developments in the energy crisis in the news blog